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Sneakers have taken a new direction and have shown that they are not a merely functional piece to use at specific times. Its designs, aesthetic strength and history have collaborated to build a global culture, a community and a phenomenon of unexpected dimensions around sneakers.
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With more than 100 years of history, Karhu carries the tradition of sport and innovation from its home country, Finland. Their technological milestones have revolutionized sportswear, with great presence in Olympic events and several medals behind them.
Karhu was born in 1916 in a workshop in the center of Helsinki called Ab sportartiklar Oy, a small place that fabricates skis, javelins and discs with birch. Their owners decided to develop a new design for running sneakers that ended up reaching the feet of Ville Ritola and Hannes Kolehmainen, the first “Flying Finn” (flying finish). Just four years later, the workshop changed its name to Karhu (“bear” in Finnish). A company with global reach was born.
The so-called Flying Finns dominated running tracks around the world and the Karhu’s recognition only grew. The victory of Paavo Nurmi, who won nine Olympic gold medals wearing his Karhus, was a defining point for the brand. In the 70s, the company launched the first patented Air midsole and in the 80s it developed the Fulcrum technology in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä. Its latest revolution came less time ago: in 2018, Karhu launches Ortix Fit, a technology developed from the analysis of more than two million foot snacers to achieve a completely perfect molding. Over time, Ortix has evolved with the HiVo and HeraFit models.
Did you know that the famous Three Stripes logo was a Karhu sale to adidas? Interestingly, after dominating the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki with 15 gold medals, Karhu decided to seize the moment and sell their image of the three stripes to the famous German brand. Another fact you want to know? The famous letter “M” that appears on some Karhu sneakers comes from the word “Mestari”,which means “champion”. Born in the 1960s, the “M” symbol was the only trademark used on running sneakers.